Digital Toolboxes

Sometimes making your own content is the best way to play!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 08/31/2015 09:00 2 Comments     ShareThis

DIY gaming has been around for decades, continually growing and evolving along with the technology of each new console. From the early days of level creators on the Japan-only Famicom Disk System, to today’s Internet-powered communities of digital content exchanges, DIY has become not just an entirely different beast than it once was, but also very much an integral part of the gaming industry. Player creativity has more than ever become a big part of the experience across a variety of different game types, some more surprising than others. While I’ve never been the biggest fan of making my own levels, when DIY means I get to inject myself into a game in unique ways, I tend to become most interested in getting my artistic side going. I have trouble wrapping my head around building stages and race tracks, but there are titles where pattern designs and emblem making are at the forefront, and I thought I’d take this chance to highlight some of the best digital toolboxes I’ve run across over the years!

Animal Crossing

There’s no denying the charm of Animal Crossing, with its goofy animal residents and seemingly endless supply of items to procure. Perhaps one of the best parts of the series, however, is the ability to design patterns for custom flooring, wallpaper, clothing, and more. For some, the series’ suite of creation tools have resulted in completely customized towns, ranging from tropical beach resorts to urban sprawls. Nintendo Power spent a lot of time highlighting ways to trick out players’ towns and homes, even providing authentic Nintendo patterns in the official players guides! Many of those designs and much, much more can be found on the website Animal Crossing Community, a place devoted to all things AC. The site serves as a hub for fans trying to get in touch with one another to make trades and such, but it’s especially useful for those who want beautiful patterns to make, but don’t know where to start. From Link to Master Chief, or gingham to plaid, there are countless patterns and designs with helpful grid lines and notes about which swatch to use to make them a reality. For me, Animal Crossing is my favorite series for getting my hands dirty coming up with new content, and anyone itching to give it a try should start with New Leaf, the newest and most creator-friendly entry yet.

Call of Duty

This might seem like a total oddball choice for DIY, but ever since the first Black Ops game introduced customizable emblems, fans have been going nuts crafting a variety of insignia to place on their player cards and gear. Some folks veer towards genitalia, sadly, but for those not intent on nauseating other players, Call of Duty’s array of shapes, letters, and numbers (all able to have their palettes swapped to any color) present a unique challenge to make something special. Being able to warp, bend, and flip each symbol isn’t quite like drawing, but it comes close, and the volume of images that have been created in each COD that offers the feature is staggering. I’ve made everything from Samus to Bomberman in Call of Duty, and every chance I get to add something Nintendo to my avatar, I take!


Okay, I’m cheating a bit by adding a non-game to the list, but hear me out: Miiverse is an incredible source of DIY. I think it’s reasonable to argue that Nintendo probably knew its fans would use the GamePad to create drawings, but the level of detail, ingenuity, and quality that’s been on display since the service’s launch surely took the company by surprise. There have been veritable masterpieces made on Miiverse using the GamePad. Some are recreations of beloved works, others entirely original pieces. From funny to even thoughtful, Miiverse allows gamers to express themselves in a way that no other social media service does, or even can. Nintendo makes a concerted effort to keep Miiverse a safe place for players of all types to connect, so anyone who’s wanting to share some gaming love should hop on and try their hand. I’ve never had a negative experience myself, and have always found the support of my fellow gamers very warming.

Super Smash Bros.

The stage builder in Smash is a competent creation tool, allowing players to craft some highly elaborate arenas… practical or not. Some players like to come up with complex stages with a number of deathtraps, while others prefer to use the suite of tools to design entirely new ways of playing the game. Smashketball is easily the most iconic and well-known creator-made Smash stage type. The Smashketball arena is comprised of two rocketbarrels on either end of the stage, each aimed downward toward a bottomless pit. There are a number of variations of the stage layout out in the wild, but the general goal no matter what is to hurl your opponent into the barrel and blast them to oblivion. It’s a fun take on traditional Smashing, and one of many different examples of what fans have been able to do by utilizing the game’s building tools.

What Nintendo games have you enjoyed creating content with over the years? Sound off in the comments!

2 Responses to “Digital Toolboxes”

  • 1561 points
    penduin says...

    Timesplitters 2 on the GameCube had a pretty nice level editor. I mainly used it to recreate maps from GoldenEye 007. :^)

    I spent quite a bit of time making silly levels for Excitebike and Wrecking Crew back in the day. Most were about what you’d expect from a kid, but I had lots of fun.

    A few years ago, I got Mario’s Picross as a Club Nintendo freebie, and was annoyed that it didn’t let me create my own puzzles. That led me to write my own picross game:
    (and yes, it does let you create your own :^)

  • 66 points
    haruhi4 says...

    the best do it yourself game for me was named “warioware do it yourself” for nintendo ds. It was a minigame creator and a really good software building game. Even for programmers like me(because it uses logic instead of code). Too bad nintendo isn´t reviving this awesome game but i hope they do it on the future.

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